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Film and Film Culture in South Africa

edited by Isabel Balseiro and Ntongela Masilela

Filmmakers, Race and Ethnicity, World Cinema

Published: May 2003
ISBN: 9780814330012
Pages: 288 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus.

Finally a book that acknowledges the absence of black voices in South African film and television is available for academics and practitioners alike.

— Cineaste

With the end of apartheid, South African cinema is at a turning point in its history. But how can we speak of a national cinema when so far only an elite minority has participated in it? How can filmmakers draw upon the past as they take South Africa into a new artistic era? This collection offers an unprecedented look at a film industry that has excluded its country’s black majority, in both representation and production—and that now must overcome collusion between racist ideology and film form.

Until recently, filmmakers could work only within a culture that reluctantly took black South Africans into account. Therefore, to explore what South African cinema has been and could become, the authors do not limit their discussion to film production but approach cinema as a manifestation of cultural history. How has the purpose of cinema been viewed at different times in South Africa, by different governments and social groups? What is the relation between film and a sense of nationhood in South Africa? What has happened when whites aim to make "black" films? How has film been viewed in relation to the notion of leisure in South Africa? Such questions lead to a consideration not only of films made by South Africans in South Africa but also of an unfolding film culture within a series of stages that have yet to give rise to a national cinema.

Isabel Balseiro is an associate professor of Comparative Literature at Harvey Mudd College and an adjunct professor of Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Ntongela Masilela is a professor of English and World Literature at Pitzer College and an adjunct professor at the University of California at Irvine.

Contributors Include:
Mark Beittel, Haile Gerima, Edwin Hees, Kgafela oa Magogodi, Jacqueline Maingard, Ntongela Masilela, Bhekizizwe Peterson, Lucia Saks, Laura Twiggs

It was with some relief that I turned to this new volume of collected essays that purports to fill a noticeable void in the meager scholarship surrounding South African media. Finally a book that acknowledges the absence of black voices in South African film and television is available for academics and practitioners alike.

– Cineaste

A compelling and refreshingly provocative overview and analysis of the history, development and constantly unfolding state of film and film culture in South Africa and its impact on South African experiences. This impressive collection of essays addresses a broad range of issues and questions about cinema and society. At the same time, it offers an abundance of information and critical perspectives on individual films as well as the complex of political, economic and other institutional factors that have shaped and continue to shape film practices in South Africa.

– Mbye Cham, Howard University